App Review: Pocket

Posted by - Angus Robinson on the 4th August 2017

Pocket is both an app and extension for your desktop browser that simply put, allows you to bookmark absolutely anything on the web and find it all in one place. Starting back in 2007, originally named ‘Read It Later’, Pocket has been growing rapidly in the last few years for both business and personal use. Beating off rivals such as Instapaper and Readability, the app currently has 14 million users and 1 billion pieces of saved content. Pocket is potentially a great tool for SMEs, so what does it offer?

Features

• Save any online content – e.g. articles, images, videos
• View content later at a more convenient time
• Available on computer, mobile devices and as an extension on browsers
• Content can be read even when you are offline
• Easily shareable via social media or email
• Integrates with over 700 different apps
• Favourite items within your list of saved content
• Once content has been read, it can be archived easily and accessed again at any time
• Recommendations and suggestions based on previous saved content
• Items can be organised under tags – this is better than folders as often content can relate to a range of topics
Pocket Screenshot
Pocket Screenshot

Premium Options

Pocket is a free app, but it does offer an upgrade to a premium account for $5 (about £3.25) a month. Premium features include:

• A permanent copy of what you save – This stops ‘link-rot’ – the general concept is that links tend to expire or change drastically after around 2 or 3 years, often meaning they can’t be viewed. Even if the saved link disappears from the web, you will always be able to view the original content
• Advanced search options. Whilst the free account allows you to search titles and URLs, the premium option will allow you to also search the full text, authors and topics
• Saved items can be sorted by relevance or date saved
• Tag suggestions
• Ad free

Problems

One of the main features of Pocket is that your saved files can be viewed offline – however, this is not the case for videos as they can’t be stored locally on your device. Although items can be viewed offline, an internet connection is required to initially download them. Currently, an upper limit does not exist for the amount of space Pocket can take up on a mobile device. So the more you save, the more storage is taken up. It is also not possible to store local files saved on your device such as PDFs, Pocket currently only deals with online content.

A common complaint of the app is that it is not compatible with Kindle, although it does offer integration with other eReaders such as Kobo. Users are also unable to highlight or annotate content. Initial set up of Pocket can be a little complicated too. For smart phone users, they would be required to install what’s called a bookmarklet, download the pocket app, download compatible partner apps, log into Pocket individually on these apps and then figure how to save items to Pocket from each one.

When testing out the app, I found that it worked brilliantly for news websites and well established blogs. However, text and images did not always display correctly when saving from lesser known sites with a less sophisticated format.

However, Pocket are addressing many of these issues and are fairly transparent in their developments and improvements of the program; allowing users to see potential new updates and request features of their own.

SMEs

Pocket can be useful for SMEs in particular, as valuable links can be shared easily with colleagues. Rather than emailing individual links, URLs can be bookmarked on the go and viewed by your colleagues all in one place.

Pocket is convenient: it’s not always possible to read content as soon as you see it and Pocket allows you to discover relevant content and view it further down the line at a more appropriate time. It is also a really useful tool for aiding organisation and productivity. By being able to create tags to order your items and having everything in one place, it reduce the stress of toggling between applications and devices to find that article you might have bookmarked somewhere last week.

Is it worth a download?

I think Pocket is a fantastic app that really helps with organisation. It reduces the clutter or a hundred different bookmarks here, there and everywhere; leaving everything of interest to you available in one place when you need it. It is well integrated with other apps to make it easy to use on a mobile device and on a desktop it is a
perfect solution to view items saved across the web.

Whether a premium upgrade of Pocket would be worthwhile would depend on your usage levels of the app. For general bookmarking and reference, I would say perhaps not. However, if you find yourself still referring back to webpages from several years ago – avoiding link-rot is definitely appealing.

I think that the primary flaw of Pocket is that users are unable to save local files on their account. Having files like PDFs available to compliment saved online items would make Pocket even better. Pocket is a great tool for SMEs who are looking for ways to organise and share content within their business. In terms of display and usability, Pocket is well formatted, modern and clean in style, with an easy to use interface. Overall, it’s definitely worth a download.